This article mentions the frequent discussions between Emmanuel Macron and Vladimir Putin:

French President Emmanuel Macron continues to keep his hotline open with Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking to him more than a dozen times since the crisis escalated in December 2021, with the latest call Thursday from a European Union summit at Versailles, France.

I understand that such discussions are required for trying to find a diplomatic solution, but what's the point of trying so many times?


5 Answers 5


Ultimately this war will only be stopped by negotiation.

It is exceptionally unlikely that Ukraine will drive all Russian forces out of its territory by military force, especially considering the ongoing Russian-backed war in Donbas. Even leaving aside its military unlikelihood, such a defeat would be catastrophic for Putin, if it occurred without any 'successes' which Putin could claim were a result. This means he would probably throw even more military power at the problem if outright defeat seemed likely.

All this means that at some point there has to be a negotiation between Russia, Ukraine and the supporters of Ukraine. Negotiation is easier if there has been frequent contact between the parties, and Macron appears to be the one volunteering to be the contact person.

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    While valid, I disagree with your point that this will only end with negotiations. It's entirely plausible that the Russian Federation could collapse from internal stressed (which sanctions are worsening), or that Ukraine could fall completely to Russia, both of which would invalidate any long term contact between Paris and Moscow.
    – GOATNine
    Apr 14, 2022 at 17:36
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    @GOATNine That's possible, but unlikely. And it would have to happen in a way where Putin doesn't make a "Hail Mary" attempt to stay in power by escalating the war. Apr 14, 2022 at 17:38
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    I have a hard time imagining that the people of Ukraine would accept to have Russians stay in their territory. As in "Will not happen". And slowly defeating Putin is the least confronting method. I am not sure whether it is even relevant to have some face saving symbolic success, because the world as presented by Putin is already so far away from reality. The people will certainly know already of the success.You can not show the success to the propaganda world, because it does not look like a success. And there is no face to save against the rest of the world. Apr 15, 2022 at 1:43
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    @user2617804 I'd argue that worries of internal destabilization would accelerate Putin's aggression rather than curb it. Now committed to this attack, he doesn't really have an out.
    – GOATNine
    Apr 15, 2022 at 11:34
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    @AlexanderThe1st I should amend my comment to specify. I was referring to negotiations where the current contact between Macron and Putin would be useful. The disintegration of Putin's regime would invalidate such diplomacy, as would the total capitulation of Ukraine.
    – GOATNine
    Apr 16, 2022 at 1:51

Quoting Emmanuel Macron:

If he doesn't talk to anyone anymore, then we don't know how far he can go. It's my obsession with him, I tell him every time. When you enter the cycle of violence, the hardest thing is to stop. The danger is the tipping point into the irreversible

(Translated by Google from french source: Guerre en Ukraine : Emmanuel Macron estime que « Vladimir Poutine a décidé qu’il ne s’arrêterait pas »)


No one else does.

Macron has accepted the role of the main negotiator with Putin from the EU (and EU friends) side for the war-related issues.

He didn't opt in for the role and likely cannot opt out. He can also get some political advantage out of it (2nd round elections for president in France are this Sunday).

He is the only one barely acceptable as a negotiator from both sides.

From the Putin's point of view, the important European countries are Germany and, maybe, France. Others are not big/powerful enough.

The German leadership right now is in a burdened position because of their bad decisions in the past that led to EU profound dependency on Russian natural gas - and - their closer than it is acceptable now, relations with Russian leadership in the past. This is why German leaders (cancelor or president) are not fit for this role in EU.

And this leaves France as the only option and the equal figure to speak with Putin is the French president.

  • He can also get some political advantage out of it It can go both ways - he can be seen by a part of the population as the only one who is not "really against Putin".
    – WoJ
    Apr 16, 2022 at 16:31
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    @WoJ His opponent in the election is almost openly for Putin, so there is really no danger that people who don't like Putin will vote for someone other than him.
    – Nobody
    Apr 16, 2022 at 16:33
  • @Nobody I think it is more complicated than this. When you actually speak with Le Pen voters, the spectrum of opinions about Putin is large (and very heavily tending towards "against")
    – WoJ
    Apr 16, 2022 at 16:37
  • @WoJ It doesn't matter a lot what the people who are voting for her anyway want. If someone is going to change their vote because of a slight appearance of a candidate possibly not opposing Putin enough, then they are certainly not switching their vote to Le Pen based on that.
    – Nobody
    Apr 16, 2022 at 18:45
  • @Nobody: what I mean is that you qualified a vote choice solely on the sentiment towards Putin. There are people who do not like Putin who will vote for Le Pen, and there are people who like Putin who will vote for Macron. Considerations other than sentiment towards Putin are more important in a presidential election in France.
    – WoJ
    Apr 16, 2022 at 18:52

War is expensive. War costs money, it costs lives, and it costs political capital. Prevention of war involving ones own territory is the top priority for any world leader.

World leaders right now are likely weighting the options of effectively dealing with this aggressive territorial expansion. While the opportunity for this to turn into a very similar situation to the beginning of WWII is high, it is not guaranteed, and prevention is still viewed as a viable option.

Letting Putin take Ukraine without direct conflict with other nations (which is what happening right now) and risk having a WWIII situation brewing if Russia moves to take another territory later is the safer route if diplomacy can be pursued to attempt to prevent further territorial expansion so long as it keeps other nations out of direct conflict.

Alternatively, Military force can be threatened, which would risk triggering a world war right now, but would theoretically end the conflict immediately (so long as it didn't escalate it). As it stands, negotiating to prevent (a larger) war is preferred over stopping the current war, simply because it's viewed as achievable, and includes less risk to the country not currently in the conflict (in this case, France).

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    See Crimea and the relative lack of action from other nations and powers.
    – GOATNine
    Apr 14, 2022 at 13:57
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    isn't this already very similar to the beginning of WWII? The question is whether it will continue along the same trajectory. Apr 14, 2022 at 17:28
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    For those who study history, it's terrifyingly close in many regards. I think that nuclear devices and acceleration of global trade, as well as an increase in emigration/immigration has dulled the appetite of people for war though, which makes the situation less volatile. Recent elections in various western countries (2016 in the USA, what's going on in France right now, UK's most recent elections) show that political volatility is on the rise though.
    – GOATNine
    Apr 14, 2022 at 17:33

There's a straightforward, albeit slightly cynical explanation: Macron is running for reelection. The cost of having such talks is low to 0, but the reward for having a success come out of them is quite high.

Additionally, there needs to be a "good cop" to the US's (and Biden) "bad cop". The US is blasting Russia with sanctions, while Macron is presumably letting Putin know what needs to happen in order for them to be reversed. Unless your goal is complete regime change in Russia, you don't want to back Putin into a corner but rather to offer face saving ways for Russia to immediately leave Ukraine.

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    France has, in its role as a cultural and literary center for Europeans generally, had a special relation with Russia, and received thousands of czarist refugees after Russia's communist revolution at the end of WW I. Marine LePen, Macron's opponent, has had rather psychophantic meetings with Putin, and plans (in the catastrophic event of her winning the run-off election on Sunday) on a Putin-XiPing-JongUn-Bolsonero-Trump-LePen "axis of autocracy": Truly a potential disaster. for democracy, which Macron's trying to counter-balance.
    – Edouard
    Apr 16, 2022 at 13:02
  • Please do not assume that I am unconnected with France, or unaware of the risks of fascism: My grandmother, nee Kathleen Murphy and educated in a Manchester convent staffed by French and English nuns, worked from 1898 to 1906 as a governess for a wealthy Parisian family, every one of whose several children was murdered in the Holocaust. I am a retired interpreter, and began learning French from her. If you'd like photographic evidence of LePen's relation with Putin, see irishtimes.com/news/world/europe/…
    – Edouard
    Apr 17, 2022 at 17:38
  • I don't think Macron profits in France from his diplomatic activity. If anything French citizens interpret it as neglecting home issues, so not much gain there. Apr 17, 2022 at 18:57
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    @Trilarion --I'd tend to agree, except that the contrast between LePen's handshake with Putin and the comically-extreme length of the marble table that separated Putin from Macron was rather telling.
    – Edouard
    Apr 17, 2022 at 19:05

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